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"Boardwalk Empire" -- "To The Lost"

By Aggie Maguire | TV | December 13, 2011 |

By Aggie Maguire | TV | December 13, 2011 |

Well, I’ll say one thing for Terence Winter: for all the story lines that were a little too similar to Kurt Sutter’s (Irish gun-running; malevolent scheming mother; murder of a young mother), at least he has the balls to commit to killing off a leading character when the story heads in that direction. And much as I would have loved that dead leading character to be Margaret Schroeder-Thompson (more about that later), there was a satisfaction (in plot terms) and a solid sense of closure to the death of Jimmy Darmody.

Patricide appeared to agree with young Jimmy. It galvanized him into a series of actions that rounded out his story and character. He gave Chalky satisfaction (“Welcome back fellas!”) and ended the strike; he negotiated a very bittersweet “reconciliation” with Nucky, setting the wheels in motion to allow the election-fixing/murder trial issue to be resolved without introducing another deus ex machina at the eleventh hour; and he finally told his mother to shut up. Kudos to Michael Pitt. He gave this episode everything. From the very beginning he exuded a sense of doom. He was especially excellent in the pony-riding scene with his little son. The last glance he threw back at his mother revealed despair, sadness and the look of a man completely trapped.

Props to Mr. Winter also because for all Pitt’s acting and the ever present heavy-handed stage management (oh, the intense, building heat, surely it will climax in a violent storm), I didn’t see Jimmy’s murder coming until quite close to the end. I love that it gave Nucky a chance to be so angry and brutal. The big question for next season is what does Jimmy’s demise mean for Richard Harrow? Will he stay and take revenge or will he disappear from the scene? He’s not a leader and Nucky already has a cold-blooded killer sidekick. I can’t see a role for him without a significant personality change.

I was hoping Margaret would get some good closure on her seasonal arc, but no dice. She’s supposedly so shrewd and clever, but is taken in by one well-staged scene outside her bedroom window. And her way of taking revenge is to give a million-dollar land deed to the Church out of spite? I hate the fact that I dislike the leading female character as much as I do, but they have made Margaret Schroeder so mean and petty in the last few episodes. I can’t even justify her actions as looking after her children anymore.

Esther Randolph better remain a rational, intelligent character who keeps dishing out those sassy lines in season three (Father Brennan: I’m here for moral support. Esther: I won’t need it) or I’ll start wondering if these writers have anti-female agenda here.

So as we leave Season Three, Nucky’s back in charge. Eli lives to Fredo on to another disaster of his own making. Poor Halloran is the only one to do any serious time. Van Alden and the nanny are living in the Chicago suburb of Cicero (that clang you heard was yet another giant anvil falling). Katie the Maid is about to go postal on somebody (please let it be Margaret), and speaking of “postal” how ironic that the Feds have taken over the post office given that it’s only a matter of months before post office buildings all over the country will be seeking tenants.

Line of the week: “If there really is a God, would he have given me this mug?” A meta nod to the audience if ever I heard one.

Anvil of the week: The murder under the war memorial, with Jimmy dying in the mud (did you all know he fought in the war?)

That’s it for season two folks. Thanks to all of you who played along at home.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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